Last week, the American Federation of Teachers released a blacklist of financial asset managers that fund organizations supporting education reform and/or switching from defined-benefit to defined-contribution pension systems, such as StudentsFirst, the Show-Me Institute and the Manhattan Institute. The report urges AFT affiliates to pressure pension fiduciaries not to invest their money with such asset managers. The AFT also makes a not-so-subtle threat to go after the donors to other think tanks and education reform groups:
This report is not intended as a one-time publication. Future versions will incorporate additional political organizations and their donors. The AFT is committed to shining a bright light on organizations that harm public sector workers, especially when those organizations are financed by individuals who earn their money from the deferred wages of our teachers.
This isn’t the first time the AFT has employed strong-arm tactics, but I find it hard to muster any outrage. As this report makes clear, the AFT’s mission is not about providing the best education for children, it’s about protecting the jobs of its members. It makes perfect sense that they wouldn’t want their money going to organizations that they perceive as working against their interests (whether that perception is accurate or not). If they would rather have lower returns on their investments, that’s their prerogative.
That said, if the AFT is going to be consistent and principled, they should support public-sector “right to work” legislation so that no one who wants to teach in public schools is forced to join a union and have their mandatory dues go toward a cause that they oppose. Moreover, the unions should end the practice of having state and local governments collect dues for them, essentially using state power and tax dollars to fund causes that some taxpayers, parents, and even teachers perceive as against their interests.
Of course, they’ll never do that. Without the use of coercion, the entire machine would fall apart.
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
Michael F. Cannon
Take it, Janet Adamy:
A labor union representing roofers is reversing course and calling for repeal of the federal health law, citing concerns the law will raise its cost for insuring members.
Organized labor was instrumental in getting the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, but more recently has voiced concerns that the law could lead members to lose their existing health plans. The United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers is believed to be the first union to initially support the law and later call for its repeal.
“After the law was passed, I had great hope…that maybe the rough spots would be worked out and we’d have a great law,” said Kinsey Robinson, international president of the union, which represents 22,000 commercial and industrial roofers…
Mr. Robinson says the union’s concerns about the law began to pile up in recent months after speaking with employers.
The roofers’ union’s current insurance plan caps lifetime medical bill payouts at $2 million for active members and $50,000 for retirees. Next year, the plan has to remove those caps in order to comply with the health law. Other aspects of the retiree plan must become more generous in order to meet the law’s minimum essential coverage requirements next year. All that will increase the cost of insuring members, Mr. Robinson said, and has prompted the union to weigh eliminating the retiree plan.
Adding to those cost concerns is a new $63-per-enrollee fee on health plans that pays insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions next year. Looking ahead to 2018, when the law levies an excise tax on high-value insurance plans, Mr. Robinson predicts that at least some of the union’s plans will get hit by it…
Over time, Mr. Robinson says, his optimism that regulators or lawmakers would address the union’s concerns diminished. “I don’t think they are going to get fixed,” he said. On Tuesday, the union called for a repeal of the health law or a complete reform of it.
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Portugal’s elder statesman calls for ‘Argentine-style’ default
Portugal’s leading elder statesman has called on the country to copy Argentina and default on its debt to avert economic collapse, a move that would lead to near certain ejection from the euro.
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard4:59PM BST 12 Apr 2013
Mario Soares, who steered the country to democracy after the Salazar dictatorship, said all political forces should unite to “bring down the government” and repudiate the austerity policies of the EU-IMF Troika.
“Portugal will never be able to pay its debts, however much it impoverishes itself. If you can’t pay, the only solution is not to pay. When Argentina was in crisis it didn’t pay. Did anything happen? No, nothing happened," he told Antena 1.
The former socialist premier and president said the Portuguese government has become a servant of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, meekly doing whatever it is told.
“In their eagerness to do the bidding of Senhora Merkel, they have sold everything and ruined this country. In two years this government has destroyed Portugal,” he said.
Dario Perkins from Lombard Street Research said a hard-nosed default would force Portugal out of the euro. “It would create incredible animosity,” he said. “Germany would be alarmed that other countries might do the same so it would take a very tough line.”
Mr Perkins said all the peripheral states are “deeply scared” of being forced out of EMU. “They fear their economies would collapse, which is ridiculous. But in the end voters are going to elect politicians who refuse to along with austerity as we are seeing in Italy, and the EU will lose control,” he said.
Raoul Ruparel from Open Europe said Portugal had reached the limits of austerity. “The previous political consensus in parliament has evaporated. As so often in this crisis, the eurozone is coming up against the full force of national democracy.”
The rallying cry by Mr Soares comes a week after Portugal’s top court ruled that pay and pension cuts for public workers are illegal, forcing premier Pedro Passos Coelho to search for new cuts. The ruling calls into question the government’s whole policy “internal devaluation” aimed at lowering labour costs.
A leaked report from the Troika warned that the country is at risk of a debt spiral, with financing needs surging to €15bn by 2015, a third higher than the levels that precipitated the debt crisis in 2011. “There is substantial funding risk,” it said.
In a rare piece of good news, eurozone finance ministers agreed on Friday to extend repayment of rescue loans for Portugal and Ireland by a further seven years, reducing the pressure for a swift return to markets.
Brussels said both countries are “still highly vulnerable” to forces beyond their control, and deserve a “strong signal” of support. Critics say it is too little, too late. Fast-moving events on the ground now have a will of their own.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat Apr 13, 2013 12:48 am
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Christopher A. Preble
It seems the Wall Street Journal editorial board has yet to identify a conflict in which the United States should not intervene. Today, they again call for U.S. military intervention in Syria and criticize President Obama for his inaction. Their main recommendation? Easy: set up a no-fly zone:
The U.S. could boost its diplomatic leverage with the rebels and their regional allies by enforcing no-fly zones over portions of Syria. That would help prevent the regime from using its attack jets and helicopter gunships against civilian targets while allowing insurgents to consolidate and extend their territorial gains. It also means we could use limited force in a way that strengthens the hand of rebels we support at the expense of those we don’t.
The key point here is that the Journal leaves open the possibility of using “limited force” to help the rebels. Indeed, this is what no-fly zones often become: precursors to additional involvement at a later date (think Iraq and Libya). I argued as much last week:
If the no-fly zone fails to swiftly halt the violence, some will claim that preserving U.S. credibility requires an even deeper commitment. Or [no-fly zones] can just become a slippery slope in their own right. The ink was barely dry on the UN Security Council resolution authorizing a no-fly zone over Libya before the mission morphed into a no-drive zone on the ground, and then a major military operation to overthrow Qaddafi’s government.
As a general rule, we shouldn’t send our military on feel-good missions that have little chance of success. And that is what no-fly zones are. They also have a clear political purpose, in this case to ensure that the opposition prevails over the Assad regime and its supporters. There is no such thing as an impartial intervention.
In Libya, there wasn’t such an explicit call for a no-fly zone as a means to toppling Muammar Gaddafi. The UN resolution authorizing the no-fly zone did not include “regime change” as a goal, but that’s what it became. In Syria, a no-fly zone would be used explicitly for the purpose of toppling Bashar al-Assad’s regime. But if regime change is the goal, a no-fly zone will not do much to lead us there. They are security-theater, as Ben Friedman has pointed out: “No-fly zones commit us to winning wars but demonstrate our limited will to win them. That is why they are bad public policy.”
The Journal inadvertently recognizes all of these points and would rather we just go all the way and couple a no-fly zone with the use of American military force:
The U.S. could also follow last week’s call by Senators John McCain and Carl Levin for targeted air strikes against Mr. Assad’s air force and Scud missile batteries. We should add that such a use of force would require Mr. Obama to persuade Congress and the American public that it is in the national interest, something he has rarely tried to do even when 100,000 U.S. troops were in Afghanistan.
To be clear, they are asking President Obama to explicitly use military force against Assad’s forces (though they do not call for American troops on the ground). This would be an act of war and would require congressional authorization. The Journal sort of acknowledges this by pointing out that the president is required “to persuade” Congress and the American public of the necessity of military intervention. But they don’t go all the way and recognize that the Constitution requires congressional authorization. It is OK for the president to wage war as long as he convinces us it is okay, the Constitution be damned.
President Obama is exercising restraint, for now, on Syria. But should he change his mind, it is Congress’s job to check his authority to wage war. In recent history, Congress has not been very good at checking the executive’s authority and excercising its constitutionally mandated war powers. Until they reclaim this power, the Journal and others might have their way on intervention in every hot spot around the globe.
***You can find my lengthier arguments against intervention in Syria here and here. For more on the problems with no-fly zones, see Ben Friedman here and here. On why many of the same problems with the Libya intervention applies to Syria, see Friedman here. Finally, on the topic of Syria and chemical weapons, see Doug Bandow here and here.
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
Christopher A. Preble
Pressure is building on President Obama to involve the United States more deeply in the brutal civil war in Syria that may have claimed as many as 70,000 lives, and created more than a million refugees. Late last week, the editorial board of the Washington Post called for “aggressive intervention by the United States and its allies to protect the opposition and civilians.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) apparently believes that the Post didn’t go far enough because the editorial explicitly ruled out sending U.S. ground troops. He wants the U.S. military to secure suspected chemical weapons caches there. But where Graham is leading few will follow, aside from his frequent co-conspirator, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). The American people are not anxious to send U.S. troops into the middle of yet another civil war in the region.
Some do want the U.S. government to do more, however, and not just the people who sold us the war in Iraq. For example, during a stop in Saudi Arabia earlier this month, Secretary of State John Kerry made vague references to increasing the flow of arms to the Syrian opposition. Back here in Washington, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) became the latest to call for establishing a no-fly zone over Syria. Arms supplied to resistance fighters can be directed against other targets when the regime collapses (or may simply prolong the war if it doesn’t), which is why no-fly zones are seen as the less risky option. They could satisfy the understandable human instinct to be seen as doing something, anything, in the face of enormous human suffering. As such, if President Obama were to institute a no-fly zone, it might forestall an even more costly and risky operation, one that did involve U.S. troops on the ground.
But no-fly zones often become precursors to additional involvement at a later date. If the no-fly zone fails to swiftly halt the violence, some will claim that preserving U.S. credibility requires an even deeper commitment. Or they can just become a slippery slope in their own right. The ink was barely dry on the UN Security Council resolution authorizing a no-fly zone over Libya before the mission morphed into a no-drive zone on the ground, and then a major military operation to overthrow Qaddafi’s government.
As a general rule, we shouldn’t send our military on feel-good missions that have little chance of success. And that is what no-fly zones are. They also have a clear political purpose, in this case to ensure that the opposition prevails over the Assad regime and its supporters. There is no such thing as an impartial intervention. We are choosing sides, and arguably already have, without a clear sense that the regime that comes after will be an improvement over what came before. We are placing ourselves into the middle of a much wider sectarian dispute taking place throughout the region.
Claims that the United States has a unique opportunity to shape the political process in Syria are equally misguided. Though we wish otherwise, a U.S. government stamp of approval is likely to undermine the legitimacy of genuine democrats in Syria, to the extent that there are any. And we know that the opposite is true: individuals or groups singled out for criticism, for example the al-Nasra Front, have seen their stature rise. The reason is simple: the American brand has never been lower in the region, and is held in particularly low regard in Syria.
When I wrote about Syria late last year (here and here), I was reasonably confident that President Obama would not intervene, in spite of the fact that his decision to help the Libyan rebels overthrow Muammar Qaddafi established a precedent for a similar regime-change operation in Syria. The key distinctions between the two cases include UN Security Council support for intervention in Libya, but not in Syria, a relatively well-defined mission in Libya, but not in Syria, and a reasonable expectation that the costs of military operations could be kept limited, and would deliver clear results, which was true in Libya, but is not true in Syria. Earlier this week, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey threw cold water on the notion that the military could produce an acceptable outcome in Syria.
The general’s candor is both welcome and refreshing. Although the suffering in Syria is gut-wrenching, the U.S. military lacks the ability to resolve the underlying social and political disputes that are driving the civil war. Indeed, as Ben Friedman pointed out last year, outside intervention might actually prolong such conflicts, or initiate new ones, resulting in even greater loss of life.
The American people have so far proved unwilling to intervene in Syria, and are particularly resistant to the idea of U.S. troops marching on Damascus. They were similarly disinclined to become involved in Libya, however, and the president ignored the public in that previous case. He should not do so with respect to Syria. And Congress shouldn’t allow it if he tries.
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
Iran calls for formation of "Islamic military organization"
English.news.cn 2013-01-27 03:10:36
TEHRAN, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) — Iran’s defense minister on Saturday called for the formation of a joint military organization among Muslim states, Press TV reported.
"We have proposed the establishment of a military organization comprising Muslim countries’ armed forces in order to defend the rights of the oppressed people" including Palestinians, Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi was quoted as saying.
Muslim states should not be third-rate powers, but must turn into one superior military power and do not allow any aggressor to think about invading Islamic countries, said the Iranian defense minister.
According to the report, Iran first called for the establishment of a defense treaty among Muslim countries in August 2012, with its defense minister saying that "If a strong and strategic defense alliance is formed among Muslim countries to defend Palestine, the Zionist regime (of Israel) will have no choice but to accept the resolve and demand of the Palestinian nation."
On Saturday, Vahidi described Israel as "the worst enemy" of Islamic countries and called for their unity against it.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat Jan 26, 2013 3:14 pm
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Michael F. Cannon
Things are getting desperate in the ObamaCare wing of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. How else can one explain today’s announcement to reject—no, to approve! conditionally!—Utah’s unapprovable health insurance “exchange” as ObamaCare-compliant?
Utah’s Exchange does not satisfy a fraction of the requirements ObamaCare imposes. Nevertheless, on December 14, Utah Gov. Gary Hebert (R) asked HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to “certify Utah’s version of an exchange as ACA compliant.” Hebert repeatedly stressed he was speaking about “our version of an exchange,” “our pre-ACA exchange,” and “the Utah version of an exchange.” Indeed, rather than offer to change his state’s Exchange to comply with ObamaCare, Hebert hinted that ObamaCare should change in order that “Utah’s version should serve as the minimum standard for all federally compliant health exchanges.”
Today, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius responded with a “conditional approval” that “reflects [HHS’s] expectation that [Utah] is developing a State-based Exchange, compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA).” In other words, Sebelius approved Hebert’s request conditional on Hebert doing what he expressed he has no intention of doing. In the real world, we call that a rejection.
I can think of only a couple of reasons that might explain why Sebelius would issue such a ridiculous letter:
- HHS is so overwhelmed by the burden of creating Exchanges in the 32 states (!) that have refused to create one that Sebelius is desperate to create the appearance of progress.
- A lawsuit filed by the state of Oklahoma has the Obama administration afraid it won’t be able to implement ObamaCare’s individual and employer mandates in Utah, as well as other major provisions of the law, unless it can claim Utah’s Exchange was “established by the state.”
If there’s anything to the first reason, Congress can take some of the pressure off the administration by delaying implementation of the Exchanges and all related provisions for two years (savings: $160 billion). The Obama administration might even be grateful.
If there’s anything to the second reason, Utah and the other 49 states should take care to protect their employers and residents by not establishing an Exchange. That also means taking care not to give HHS an opportunity to pretend they have established one.
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
Patrick J. Michaels and Paul C. "Chip" Knappenberger
The Current Wisdom is a series of monthly articles in which Patrick J. Michaels, director of the Center for the Study of Science, reviews interesting items on global warming in the scientific literature that may not have received the media attention that they deserved, or have been misinterpreted in the popular press.
In its 2007 Fourth Assessment Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected that as a result of warming primarily caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, global mean sea level would rise from 1990 through 2100 from 0.18 to 0.59 meters (7 to 23 in.) with perhaps another 0.1 to 0.2 meters (4 to 8 in.) on top of that if the rates of ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica continued to grow linearly (from their 1993-2002 rates).
Some of our colleagues who are of a particularly “concerned” persuasion accused the IPCC of being far too conservative in these estimates; it’s true that the IPCC’s central estimate of 15 inches is hardly alarming. NASA’s Jim Hansen went as far as to accuse the IPCC and others of “scientific reticence” (Hansen claims that scientists are generally reluctant to announce bad news. Judge that one for yourself.) with regard to sea level rise. For his part, Hansen shares no such reticence, and doesn’t mind telling anyone who asks (and many who don’t) that we should be expecting upwards of 6 meters (236 in.) of sea level rise in a hundred years. He has even stated that the majority of this could occur by 2100. Clearly, there is a world of difference (and a different world) between the IPCC central estimate of 15 inches and Hansen’s 20 feet.
As if on cue, a bunch of apparently non-“reticent” scientists suddenly emerged, trying to show that the IPCC was wrong and of course, that things are “worse than we thought”.
They developed a technique that, to the non-perseverators in the crowd, seems quite reasonable, a “semi-empirical” method which ties historical sea level rise to the rate of global mean temperature change. They used this relationship rather than the computer-generated rises in sea level that come out of climate models, which is what backs the IPCC projections. Instead they only used the global temperature change projections from the same climate models, and then coupled those with their semi-empirical relationship between temperature and sea level to make their projections. Such a technique almost invariably yields greater rates of sea level rise, with the upper end of the range of projected values often exceeding 1 meter (39 in.) by the year 2100.
One potential problem is that the empirical relationship between sea level and global temperature may not be valid—even though it seems simple and straightforward. A new multi-authored study argues cogently that indeed the semi-empiricists have fallen into this simple trap.
The new paper’s lead author is Jonathan Gregory of the U.K.’s University of Reading, and the other authors are a who’s who of sea level researchers (repeating my professions nauseating belief that putting a large number of authors (most of whom have—at best—just read the manuscript) somehow makes it more persuasive). The paper concludes that the causes of sea level rise, and its temporal variations, across the 20th century were many, and that a link to anthropogenic global climate changes has been weak or absent over this period. Basing future sea level rise projections on a presumed historical relationship between anthropogenic global warming and corresponding sea level rise turns out to be a bad idea.
Here is how Gregory et al., 2012 put it:
The implication of our closure of the [global mean sea level rise, GMSLR] budget is that a relationship between global climate change and the rate of GMSLR is weak or absent in the past. The lack of a strong relationship is consistent with the evidence from the tide-gauge datasets, whose authors find acceleration of GMSLR during the 20th century to be either insignificant or small. It also calls into question the basis of the semi-empirical methods for projecting GMSLR, which depend on calibrating a relationship between global climate change or radiative forcing and the rate of GMSLR from observational data (Rahmstorf, 2007; Vermeer and Rahmstorf, 2009; Jevrejeva et al., 2010).
And here are the main conclusions, now seriously questioned, from the semi-empiricical citations included in the above quote:
When applied to future warming scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, this relationship results in a projected sea-level rise in 2100 of 0.5 to 1.4 meters above the 1990 level [by 2100].
Vermeer and Rahmstorf (2009):
For future global temperature scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report, the relationship projects a sea-level rise ranging from 75 to 190 cm for the period 1990–2100.
Jevrejeva et al. (2010):
With six IPCC radiative forcing scenarios we estimate sea level rise of 0.6–1.6 m, with confidence limits of 0.59 m and 1.8 m.
Seems like three strikes against projecting those high rates of sea level rise.
For a little reality check, the current rate of rise is somewhere in the range of 1.8 to 3.5 mm/yr (0.07 to 0 .14 in/yr) depending on the time period over which you calculate the trend.
Further, as we have previously written, it doesn’t look as if the recent increased rates of ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica are sustainable—much less going to linearly increase to the end of the century. All of this strongly argues that the 21st century sea level rise is not a problem that we can’t keep up with.
Gregory, J., et al., 2012. Twentieth-century global-mean sea-level rise: is the whole greater than the sum of the parts? Journal of Climate, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00319.1, in press.
Hansen, J.E., 2007. Scientific reticence and sea level rise. Environmental Research Letters, 2, doi:10.1088/1748-9326/2/2/024002
Jevrejeva, S., et al., 2010. How will sea level respond to 1019 changes in natural and anthropogenic forcings by 2100? Geophysical Research Letters, 37, L07703, doi:10.1029/2010GL042947.
Rahmstorf, S., 2007. A semi-empirical approach to projecting future sea-level rise. Science, 315, 368–370, doi:10.1126/science.1135456.
Vermeer, M. and S. Rahmstorf, 2009. Global sea level linked to global temperature. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106, 51, 21527–21532, doi:10.1073/pnas.0907765106.
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Print Now! Print Forever! Print in new ways!
I am actually a bit suprised by this article from Mr. Greider. He wrote the classic book The Secrets of the Temple. He is a smart guy. Below is a discussion of his book and the Fed from 1987. It is absolutely worth a viewing.
I would also encourage everyone who cares about Fed policy to read the attached article in The Nation at the end of this post. It is mind blowing in its premises and even more mind blowing in its prescriptions, but not in a good way, and I respect Mr. Greider.
In the article Greider argues that the Fed has not been activist enough. He argues that Fed policy has been dominated by “conservatives” who don’t want the Fed to overstep its bounds.
That is a pretty odd assertion.
The Federal Reserve is now engaged in ongoing money printing. It has held rates at 0% and in real terms negative for 4 years! How easy does Greider want the money to be?
But before we discuss what he wants the Fed to do, let’s for a moment look at how he gets there.
Despite what you may have read in the newspapers or heard from the president’s cheerful speeches, the economy is not out of the danger zone. Despite some encouraging indicators recently, both the US economy and the world’s remain in perilous condition, still threatened by the larger catastrophe Washington officials thought they had averted. That is, a renewed global recession will compound the losses and can swiftly morph into the big D, for depression.
Morph? We are in a depression. We had a fall. Now we are stuck in a hole, and we have been for a long time. We may not be backsliding at the moment, and people may have gotten used to the “new normal” but it’s still a depression.
Why are we still mired? Because markets have not been allowed to clear. That’s why.
Banks should have gone bankrupt. Houses which were overpriced should have been liquidated. There would have been pain, probably lots of it, but we’d be through it by now in all likelihood. The market would have solved the misallocation of capital problem and we then would potentially have had the first real economy (assuming the Fed got out of the way) in decades.
And one has to smile at Greider’s statement above for another reason.
“Despite what you may have read in the newspapers or heard from the president’s cheerful speeches, the economy is not out of the danger zone.”
He is clearly writing for his audience here. Who ever thought the economy was “out of the danger zone?” The only people I can imagine are people who think the #oldmedia is in any way inclined to tell the truth. (I didn’t think that Greider was one, but I guess he is). I don’t know many folks who fall into this category, but then again I don’t read The Nation regularly either.
He goes on.
Bernanke is sure to further inflame his harshest critics—the Fed’s traditional allies on the right. Hard-money Republicans and the banking interests they always defend complain bitterly that Bernanke’s already done too much, when he knows he has not yet done enough. His actions are derided as dangerous meddling that threatens to spark inflation (though it currently remains near zero).
Hard money Republicans? I can think of 1, 1, in Washington and he is leaving at the end of the lame duck session. (Actually, to be fair, Ron Paul is the only real sound money guy. There might be a handful for tightening the reins.)
It is unclear if Greider is also saying that “banking interests” are also for hard money which could not be more false. (Again, I am honestly suprised that he says this.) Banking interests LOVE easy money. Greider has more in common with the fat guys smoking cigars in 3 piece suits than he wants to admit.
But despite Greider’s poor construction here, it can be said that whatever his intention, neither Republicans nor bankers are for “hard money.”
Then he laments that the “Left” hasn’t been cheering the Fed on enough. The fact that Greider (he’s an old guy) still embraces the whole right/left thing should give us an indication of what sort of glasses he sees the world through.
Joseph Gagnon, a twenty-five-year veteran of monetary policy at the Fed and now an economist at the Peterson Institute, lamented the one-sided nature of elite debate. “What bothers me,” he said, “is one side is nothing but critical of what the Federal Reserve is doing, and the other side is just silent. I just don’t understand. Why aren’t a lot of voices complaining that the Fed isn’t doing enough? The progressive side has been absolutely silent, and yet the conservatives have been jumping up and down. And this totally distorts the Fed’s environment.”
My intention for this article is to provoke a wider argument. I hope it nudges the left to get up to speed on monetary policy and take an aggressive position instead of forfeiting the field to the right-wingers. I want progressive activists to intrude on the privileged circle that talks to the august Federal Reserve and help citizens join the conversation. So long as the insulated central bank maintains its privileged structure—unaccountable to voters but intimately connected to the bankers it regulates—the people are bound to be left out in the cold.
The people on the left side of American politics seem not to have noticed that Bernanke has lately been moving in their direction, pushing for important measures that progressives also champion. The chairman’s essential policy approach follows the basic premise of Keynesian economics: in times of deep recession or depression, only the federal government has the ability to reverse things with its interventions. Mitt Romney and the Republican Party, on the other hand, have reverted to the stiff-necked Calvinist doctrine that conservatives espoused after 1929: nothing can be done to relieve economic misery, except to let nature take its course. The New Deal blew away the smugness of the monied interests seventy-five years ago. Now they are back, peddling the same bromides.
Mitt Romney was an unabashed Keynesian (Greider MUST know this) who’s economic advisors were all Keynesians. Indeed this is probably one of the reasons he called for increased military spending. It is highly doubtful that Romney would have encouraged a hard money regime—in fact, I would say that there is no way it would have happened. Though it would have been the right course.
At the end of the above quote we also witness the bizarre nostalgia for FDR which is so often exhibited by those who want a more activist state. People forget that FDR wouldn’t leave office, despite the American tradition of presidents serving only 2 terms established by George Washington. People forget that before World War 2 people such as Benito Mussolini were held up as examples by the administration.
But statists, gonna state I suppose. And Greider, though a critic of the Fed is a statist it can safely be asserted.
He concludes his article by arguing that the Fed needs to do what it can, even if some consider such actions illegal, to jar loose the money the Fed has sent to the commercial banks.
Here, Greider is right on one very important point. Commercial banks are sitting on piles of Fed created money receiving interest payments on this money. This is a problem. The money should never have been created in the first place and the banks getting paid for sitting on this money is indeed outrageous. However, if this capital was dislodged, the fake inflation rate Greider sites at “0%” (this is total nonsense) might lurch skyward very quickly. If the glaciers of money frozen right now were thawed quickly, the world could see a catastrophic flood.
Simply, Greider is calling for policy which would end in disaster.
Again I would encourage everyone who cares about Fed policy in the least to read Greider’s article.
View full post on AgainstCronyCapitalism.org
France’s president is an ‘imbecile’, Karl Lagerfeld says
German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld has called French President François Hollande an “imbecile” and slammed his policies as “disastrous” in an interview published Friday with Marie Claire magazine.
By FRANCE 24 (text)
Paris-based German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld has slammed the French president as “an imbecile” whose “disastrous” policies “will drive the rich out of France”.
The comments were made in an interview for the Spanish edition of Marie Claire magazine, extracts of which were published on the website of Spanish daily El Mundo on Friday.
“This imbecile, he’ll be just as disastrous as [former Spanish premier José Luis] Zapatero,” he told the magazine, which he is guest editing for its 25th anniversary.
“Hollande hates the rich. He clearly wants to punish them — they’ll leave [the country] and nobody will invest,” he said. “Foreigners won’t invest, and things will stop working.
“Apart from fashion, jewellery, perfume and wine, France has no edge," said Lagerfeld. "Nothing else sells. Who buys French cars? Not me.”
Just two weeks ago, France’s richest man, businessman Bernard Arnault, pledged to move to Belgium to escape Hollande’s stiff tax increases on the rich, including a proposed 75% tax rate on incomes of more than €1 million.
Laurence Parisot, the CEO of powerful French business federation Medef, told French radio RTL on Thursday that while Lagerfeld “has talent, he is also a provocateur and can be rude. (…) Hollande is certainly not an imbecile.”
Lagerfeld also accused the king of Spain, Juan Carlos, of not being good enough for his wife, Queen Sofia, who the designer said he “adored”.
“The queen is the most gallant person in the world. She shouldn’t have to put up with the king’s foolishness,” he said.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Fri Oct 19, 2012 12:42 pm
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